Students Say Goodbye to 'R-Word'

Kids at Gardner Middle School pledged to never say "retarded" again.

Students at pledged to never use the "R-word" again.

The students made their vow on March 7 to never say "retarded," a word often used as a derogatory slang adjective.

Special Education teacher Cheryl Stark asked students to sign a large banner denounce the term and educate other people if they hear the word.

to read about last year's event.

The campus is a more respectful place since Stark started the event three years ago, said spokesperson Melanie Norton.

"Principal Kristin Larson says she and her staff are exceptionally proud of their students' understanding of and respect for each on campus," she said.

Dog March 18, 2012 at 11:17 PM
I'd worry more about them using the F-word...
john March 19, 2012 at 03:21 AM
Is retard really that bad. This article is retarded!
Ognir Rattsa March 19, 2012 at 11:28 AM
I agree John.
Popeye March 19, 2012 at 12:39 PM
They are saying goodbye to Republicians.
Alan Salls March 19, 2012 at 02:09 PM
Another giant step forward for the California Public Education System!
anotherview March 19, 2012 at 04:37 PM
Why retard the use of the English language in the name of social or political correctness? Free speech becomes retarded by this social engineering with the questionable premise of avoiding offense to others via sanitizing speech. This misguided policy also retards the education of students by introducing them to self-censorship, as designed by others, instead of teaching students how to think for themselves. This citizen suggests educators justify their status by presenting intellectual challenges instead of pap to their pupils. As a start, consider the words of the philosopher Spinoza: "In a free state, every man may think what he likes, and say what he thinks." These words give the operational definition of free speech. Hence, the mental midgets in the education industry who propose a social or a political rationale for retarding free speech do a disservice both to the instruction of their students and to the practice of democracy. Besides, where does this slippery slope lead to? After all, once we allow the unthinking do-gooders to retard the use of our daily language, what other social and political retardation will they propose for others to follow? Just say no loud and clear to those so-called educators who would diminish the scope of language by retarding it via self-censorship.
Amazing Lies March 19, 2012 at 07:22 PM
Nice one, anotherview! Lovely to have a smile on a Monday morning. I agree though, the students should be pledging not to use the word in a derogatory way, but teach them how to use the word correctly in myriad other ways. The school system is supposed to be educating our children, not censoring their language. Educate them towards compassion, empathy, helpfulness and understanding. Teach them to look out for each other with a communal sense of responsibility and a strong understanding of justice. Do some good while they are in your care.
Monica French March 19, 2012 at 09:39 PM
I am a bit saddened to see the responses to this article. Cheryl Stark is an exceptional Special Education teacher! Her focus is on working with kids with disabilities. She obviously saw a problem with the word "retarded" being used with her students and stepped out to make a difference for them and in response, the whole school environment seems to be a more respectful one! This should be celebrated (as it was in the article) not criticized (as you all are doing). Yes, I agree that there are other things that need to be addressed such as foul language, promiscuity, and bad attitudes among middle schoolers but are you going to blame the school for that? Those kinds of things begin in the home and should be addressed there. Mrs. Stark took a problem that directly affected her kids and made it known and the small act in turn affected a whole school in a positive way! Come on people, celebrate the small stuff so it can grow into big stuff!! No one is going to want to try anything if people keep criticizing any attempt to make a difference if even for one person! Congratulations on making a difference Cheryl Stark! I'm proud to know you!
TemecuMom March 20, 2012 at 03:27 AM
When it is used inappropriately, in a demeaning and derogatory way, then YES, it is really that bad.
TemecuMom March 20, 2012 at 03:35 AM
I agree whole-heartedly, Monica. My child attends GMS and benefitted from the "End the Word" campaign. He already respected students who are different from himself, but now it is easier for him to encourage his friends to do the same. GMS has a much more inclusive culture than other middle school campuses. While other schools merely 'tolerate' special education students, GMS accepts them. Big difference! I am proud that my child attends a school that has teachers like Mrs. Stark who are willing to go the extra mile.
LHJ March 20, 2012 at 06:36 AM
God forbid we actually teach the proper attitude rather than deleting the word altogether.. And when one of these kids "schools" someone else for talking about retarding the timing on their truck, or talks about retarded growth of a plant, or any other of the dozens of uses for that word.. I'm sure they will be able to grasp the act that retarded their education... Actually Monica French, much of what kids learn (especially attitude and misuse of the English language) starts in school and is perpetuated by the schools. Since the 1960's our schools have limited, more and more the "influence" parents have attempted to maintain over their own children and their attitudes. I'm happy to hear the "school" is a much nicer and accepting place for these kids now.. But, have you heard the word the rest of the kids have come up with to replace the "R" word? Of course you haven't, it's still a secret among the children.. And it's more than likely spelled out with consonants like most other phrases kids use today.. I don't criticize attempts to properly teach, but because a word can have a negative connotation, doesn't mean you stop using the word. Teach them the proper application, and the proper attitude.. Oops, did I say God? That's a bad word too, in school isn't it?
LHJ March 20, 2012 at 06:50 AM
The word is a real word in the English language. It has more than one meaning, as does the word ignorant, black, white, nut, cracker, (well the list is actually quite long) but I can't forget the word "blond". All can be used in the wrong and damaging way. You don't stop kids from properly using a word because it has been being used in the wrong way. It's not going to be long before "protected" will become synonymous with those we are "accepting". In fact, that word is already being used in a negative way, and it is more inclusive than all of the other words put together.. Oh, well... life goes on and kids are still kids.. regardless of the attempts by adults (paid to teach) to retard their education by excluding words from use because they might be being used the wrong way.. I love this "don't say that word" attitude because someone in our world is misusing it.. Teach.. taking a word out of circulation only opens the door for another word to take it's place..
Mr. Lada March 20, 2012 at 10:49 AM
Go ahead and take away retard but teach them other alternative words instead such as dummy, fool, nitwit, moron, doofus, cretin, dimwit, idiot, imbecile, dolt, or half-wit! Expand their vocabularies!
Amazing Lies March 20, 2012 at 11:05 AM
I understand that to be on the receiving end of insults is unpleasant and hurtful. However, it's the behavior of the bullies, whether children or adults, that should be tackled, not their vocabulary. Expand their vocabularies, teach them the beauty and the power of being able to use the right words to express themselves. Banning the use of a word is counter-productive. Tackle the nasty attitudes and deal with the inadequacies of the bullies. Remove the desire to inflict pain, rather than blunting the weapons. Remove the root of the problem, don't pluck a single leaf.
TVOR March 20, 2012 at 03:10 PM
Too much touchy feely BS for me. How about teaching kids coping skills to actually get along in the real world where people try to hurt your feelings? This kind of policy produces children who will fail socially when the go out into the real world.
john March 20, 2012 at 05:59 PM
Sure, it's not nice to call the retarded kid retarded. Sorry
Troy March 20, 2012 at 07:11 PM
Oh good grief! Yeah, sure. Let's prtoect our children from everything offensive, because as we all know, the world is just rainbows and unicorns! There are more important things going on.
LHJ March 20, 2012 at 09:53 PM
Jamila, With your logic, it's not okay to call a person retarded, and you accuse "parents" of being the problem. I personally know a lot of people who teach their kids not to behave in undesirable ways, and while their kids are at home or in the company of people who know the kid's parents the kids are well behaved. Then when the kids are seen out and about with "friends" or at school, the kids are hellions. Jamila, you seem to have a little bit of a misunderstanding about how kids behave. School and what our schools promote is what contributes more to the problem than anything else. This "shotgun" approach to teaching does nothing more than refocus the majority in the creative ways children can effectively do what they do to impress each other. Sure, you may love the teacher who tells everyone that a perfectly useful word is bad and that teacher may feel proud of herself for getting all the little kids to make a vow not to "ever use" that word again. But in reality, she has done little to help these kids understand that life is hard. Life is what you make it. Life is going to knock you down, and you can't continue to feel sorry for yourself for someone elses lack of understanding. But, instead, you promote the defensive, reactionary logic. I think you promote the very essence of the problem (as you see it). In your case, the word is probably more offensive to you than it is to your child. You relate that to your child. In your case, the parent IS the problem.
LHJ March 20, 2012 at 10:19 PM
Jamila, I lived with a brother who has MS from birth. He had plenty of opportunity to be called names. He was targeted many times by people who misused words that were otherwise appropriate in conversation. My sister has epilepsy, she was targeted because of the confusion brought on after having seizures. I have seen the horrible ATTITUDES of people, as a kid myself and as an adult. Banning the use of a word because it is misused does nothing to the "attitude" of the person misusing the word. My family had to overcome the obstacles people attempted to place before those of us who had "imperfections". Each of us has something that isn't perfect in our lives. Some are more obvious than others. Those hurling insults are (most of the time) doing so to cover up their own imperfections. And that is what my parents taught us. We learned that it is the limitations of those who hurl insults that cause them to do just that, hurl insults. So, your presumption that I don't understand is your problem, not mine. I do understand. I lived with it. Parents who have little understanding about human behaviors and lacking the ability to teach their own children what that child's potential in life is, contributes more to the child's feeling of worthlessness than anyone else.. don't blame someone else or presume you know things you don't. That is what I call "ignorance", by application.
LHJ March 20, 2012 at 10:29 PM
Jamila, Why don't you try becoming a little more creative, like your son. Apply some of his intelligence, help him to understand what and who he really is, rather than the public misconception. In fact, try helping your son understand that everyone has limitations. Each of us has something we can contribute to society, some won't become obvious as soon as others, but that doesn't mean we don't have something to contribute. Einstein was considered to be "retarded" by many. But, because of him and his work, we have a different world from what it was before he published his work. Quit promoting the notion that because someone insults or calls names, or misuses a word, the word should be banned. Ban the attitude, help your son show his abilities not the limitations. It can be done and it is TOUGH, but that is life. Who the heck taught you that nobody should have hurt feelings? Insults are a daily thing in life, if we grasp that, we have a better understanding of how we need to work more toward focusing on our own abilities, not what someone else thinks.
LHJ March 21, 2012 at 12:35 AM
It is unfortunate that Jamila deleted all of the comments they made. Telling people their attitude is wrong and suggesting that they don't know what they are talking about because they don't have any idea what it's like to raise a "special needs" child and then finding out that the people or person does know what it is like, shows everyone else just how much Jamila doesn't understand that he or she isn't the all knowing person he or she thinks they are. It is a shame we have these teachers who, through some hair brained idea think that getting a bunch of young students to agree to "never use" a word again, is actually going to make a long range improvement in their life. What this practice does is actually make these young people LESS equipped to handle the more harsh world they will face in the future. It is a fact that teaching children something doesn't exist, when it does, is more dangerous than accepting and properly equipping children to understand human behavior and why people tend to criticize or demean other people they consider to be different. Teaching children is a learned skill that should help them to understand, not to bury their head in the sand and ignore (or attempt to teach other people that a word that has many different applications shouldn't be used at all) reality is an idiotic thing to do to children in general. And it is especially dangerous to attempt to teach special needs children to believe there is no other use for such a word.
Troy March 21, 2012 at 06:24 PM
It's one thing to make fun of people for things they have no control over, which IMO isn't cool. But to make a jab at a friend for doing something retarded is no biggie.


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